The Mastermind by David Unger is a novel about corruption and its toll on Guatemala. Mr. Unger, Guatemalan, writes in English but was still awarded Guatemala’s Miguel Ángel Asturias National Prize in Literature for lifetime achievement in 2014.
- 320 pages
- Publisher: Akashic Books (March 14, 2016)
- ASIN: B01C6D0KFS
My rating for The Mastermind — 4
Buy The Mastermind from Amazon.com*
My initial issue with The Mastermind by David Unger is that I did not like the protagonist, Guillermo Rosensweig., Mr. Rosensweig is a jerk, a bad father, bad husband, bad business partner and even cheats on the woman he cheats with. But he is a good and successful lawyer.
The novel, though, kept my interest by describing the corruption in Guatemala and how it affects many people throughout society. Having lived in New Jersey for most of my life I know how corruption in institutions has a way to become legalized and even moralized (not that I’m comparing the level of corruption) by community and political leaders.
This novel is certainly engaging and interesting even though it takes almost half the book to build up, and the corruption is only secondary to the protagonist’s interest in leaving his wife for his lover. The nuances in the text about the corruption and lifestyle in Guatemala could easily be glossed over.
The novel is based on a Guatemalan lawyer named Rodrigo Rosenberg who planned his own assassination while leaving a video claiming president Álvaro Colom had him murdered.
While the novel was not what I expected, it was an interesting read and the last third of the book was very quick and engaging. I was actually very surprised that the book was written in English, as the narrative style reminded me of many books from Latin American I read which were translated.
Guillermo Rosensweig, a Guatemala Guatemalan lawyer with wife and kids has a string of lovers. One day he meets Maryam, a Lebanese woman which he falls in love with, and she with him.
Maryam’s father, a client, is an honest businessman who refused to land a hand to the corrupt government. While doing so he puts in danger all who are close to him, including his daughter and lawyer.
Zohar — Man of la Book
Disclaimer: I got this book for free.
*Amazon links point to an affiliate account